If one believes one’s interface with the world is damaged, both in response to the environment and in how one perceives the environment responds to him, what is one to do? I remember the term “inappropriate affect” from nursing, but I thought it meant their face doesn’t match what they’re feeling. I just looked it up and it technically means they are emotionally disconnected from stimuli, or their environment. From reading about Borderline Personality Disorder, besides the sins, if unchecked, of rage and lust that go along with it, it doesn’t seem so much that one is out of touch, but that they are over negatively affected by stimuli, after the idealization wears off.
In observing a person a while back with bipolar disorder, and after reading other histories, I’ve made the correlation with that diagnosis and promiscuous behavior in their early years. This behavior could be a symptom instead of a cause of the extent of the disorder, but I think that the extent to which the person engages in promiscuity affects the severity of either a downward spiral of symptoms or better coping, if not recovery. The way I can view promiscuity as a symptom is that there are childhood environments, the person had a pretty unusual history of bad parenting, that can lead a person to be vulnerable to inappropriate attention seeking which leads to that. This history is probably combined with other variables in a person’s born nature. But I maintain that these nature and nurture things only set up a person’s struggle. The capitulation is on their head. And the capitulation will make them worse instead of better. There is also blindness and deception and seduction that may lead a person to capitulate. This is the loud din that can drown out the still small voice. Yet I don’t think they are totally deaf to that voice, no matter how much they try to drown it out. They have to come to terms with their complicity. And then they have to learn to undo their bad habits.
So I’m saying that a person with Borderline Personality Disorder may have made themselves worse, or increased their negative emotions, rage, and lust, by giving in to self-pity, tantrums, and attention-seeking, if not worse. When the person gave into them, they may have felt that they could trust the negative emotions and perceptions that lead them there, even though they didn’t feel right about it. I’m going to play devil’s advocate again and say the initial negative emotions and perceptions were valid responses to bad situations. Maybe these emotions were also initially intensified by a person’s inborn sensitivity. And maybe they didn’t have enough external support to combat them. If by the grace of God the person finds support, most fully in the Orthodox Church with above average offerings of services, then they can do the work to undo the habits of their dysfunction in themselves, if not their damaged relationships with themselves and others. By that I mean that they can at least imagine a different interface with the world. That is the first step to disassociating from their own habitual interface.
Promiscuity comes up a lot as a pretty loud dysfunction. Perhaps it is helpful to view that as a symptom. The cause being detachment because of a perception of abuse or neglect. I’m hesitant to say perception or presence because that seems to be a problem with understanding borderline personality disorder – is it nature or nurture? Regardless, the person feels an insatiable need for a specific type of relationship(s). They go through a string of intense relationships begun by idealization and usually ending in extreme disillusionment. But they remain hopeful for the next and the next. Unless they commit suicide on the down end of one of them. Maybe the first highly promising one. If they don’t commit suicide, I think they do gradually tone down some of their expectations over time, which is why the articles say they stabilize somewhat by their 30’s and 40’s. This may also have to do with hormones and just wearing out.
Is this intense need for relationship inevitable? I’m thinking yes, if there was a lack in a key relationship(s), either in perception or presence. I remember never feeling loved. When “I love you” was said, it’s not that I didn’t believe them, it’s that I couldn’t comprehend the word. It did not compute. It still doesn’t. That doesn’t erase the need for experiencing it. It’s indispensable. I have very much struggled with wondering if I should be seeking it from God alone. Feral children show us that it can’t be from just God alone. But after a certain maturity, and maybe enough healthy people’s (at least those who somehow can break through the negative perceptions) input, it can be. Maybe these are the hermit monks. Or maybe it can’t be and they have to experience the development of properly ordered relationships in a cenobic monastery.
But what do they have to work on in the monastery? Monastery (or strong Christian community lead by a Father and/or Mother), because there is too much seductive enablement in the world. I think that if they want to be healed, what they need to work on will rise to the line of sight. They will hear, maybe on the TV show, Elementary, about one of their symptoms, such as intense gazing. They will learn that it is an inappropriate affect that will draw the wrong kind of attention. What if they weren’t aware of it and have been doing it on up through middle age? What are they supposed to do now, quit looking at anyone? That seems impossible and like suicide. Father Seraphim Rose has lots of pictures where he is looking down. I think there is a part in His Life and Works that addresses why he did that. Maybe it’s a helpful exercise until one isn’t so needy.